All posts in “Technology”

These emergency igloo shelters are helping homeless people in France survive freezing temperatures

Geoffroy de Reynal is an engineer who designed waterproof shelters, which are made of polyethylene foam and aluminum foil.

His invention intends to tackle the high rates of homelessness in urban centers like Paris and help those who are most vulnerable when temperatures drop drastically.

The new Light Phone 2 keeps things basic but adds e-ink and ‘essentials’

Light is back with a new twist on its anti-smartphone phone. But this time, instead of doing just one thing, the Light Phone 2 does a few, and exists somewhere between the original Light and your overwrought iPhone – though still far closer to the first-generation Light phone overall.

The new design features a matte finish e-ink display, which occupies most fo the front face of the device and can show text, act as a virtual keyboard for sending messages, show your contacts and alarms and more. The phone uses Light’s own proprietary operating system, which is heavy on the text and limited on the total number of options and features, and you use physical keys on the side of the phone to navigate through menu options.

The Light Phone 2 has 4G LTE connectivity and, since it’s not yet finalized but is instead kicking off its Indiegogo crowdsourcing campaign, could add features including directions, ride-sharing specific apps, playlists, weather reports, and voice commands according to the company’s founders, on top of the basic call, messaging, contact book, alarm and auto-reply features that are definitely going in. Whether those other add-on features make the cut will depend in some part on backer feedback.

But with those potential additions, plus the larger, device-commanding active display, the Light Phone 2 is starting to sound a lot more smartphone-y and a lot less “Just a phone.” But LIght’s creators say that it’s definitely not, under any circumstances, going to add social media, advertising, email or news features to the phone.

Really, those are the things that truly turn our mobile companions into huge time sucks and mood altering devices. Light Phone 2 is definitely more of a compromise than a purist dumbphone like the original, but it still also sounds like it fits the company’s chosen tagline of being “a phone for humans” better than your average flagship smartphone does today.

Light’s been out of stock of its current generation device for a while now, which was probably because it was looking forward to this launch. The phone’s Indiegogo campaign has $225 as the early bird price fo the device, with $400 as the target retail cost, and estimated shipping is April of next year (yes, over a year away) so the company also seems to have learned a lesson or two about manufacturing and shipping hardware, and is giving itself ample buffer for this redesign.

Nokia is relaunching its ‘Matrix’ slider phone and other high-concept simple phones like the Punkt MP01 are out there trying to wean people away from their smartphone habits. It’s an appealing dream, but it’s hard to tell if it’s just a brief hiccup due to information ennui, or a real movement in the early offing. How Light Phone 2’s campaign does overall might be another indicator as to which it ends up being.

There’s always a bigger fish

Hall One at Mobile World Congress – a single space more massive than most conference centers in major cities – contained only a few displays. Although a quarter of the room housed small phone and mobile manufacturers, Huawei controlled the rest, creating a walled-off compound patrolled by women in folk costumes from many lands.

The Small World After All jollity stopped at the gates. This was Huawei’s war room. Mere mortals were not allowed to tread its hallowed ground as the ladies at the gate kept out all but the invited and kept folks from crossing through the booth. Sure, whatever lay behind those electronic gates were simply phones and the company recently bungled a carrier deal in the US but the company also recently surpassed Apple as second biggest phone manufacturer in the world.

If I were Samsung I’d be quaking in my boots. But it should also be a lesson to startups attempting to take on giants and giant ideas in the next few years.

There’s always a bigger fish.

I bring this up while thinking about the future of technology and, more specifically, incumbent companies. If there is anything we have learned about modern tech it’s that everything is in flux. Today decentralized applications are considered crypto moon shots or, worse, moon bat fiction. In a few years – I’d wager by 2020 – they will be a valid alterative to centralized data storage and application control. Today the token economy is a white-hot mess. In the future it may be the de facto standard for early company-building.

There are waves that pass through the tech industry that are, if you’re looking, quite visible. Some years it’s a color – piano black was quite popular before the financial crisis – and some years it’s a true innovation. There haven’t been many clear waves of late as CES was a dud and MWC was essentially an attempt for small app and service providers to make a little extra money this year, but I sense a change in the air that I last felt when Linux was slowly entering the mobile space.

Why investor Jalak Jobanputra is betting big on crypto

When investor and entrepreneur Jalak Jobanputra first visited a blockchain conference five years ago she got goosebumps. The experienced investor had heard of cryptocurrencies but now that they had truly come into maturity she was excited. Now, five years later, she’s building her entire VC practice around blockchain and sees bright days ahead for the technology.

Join us Jobanputra, the founder of FuturePerfect Ventures, as we talk about her take on crypto, the future of investment, and the direction she’s headed in terms of investment and startup innovation.

Technotopia is a podcast by John Biggs about a better future. You can subscribe in Stitcher, RSS, or iTunes and listen the MP3 here.